“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. ” Marcel Proust
One year of life in Bangladesh completed today! On this day, a year ago, we finished our 2 months road trip in Australia, followed by a few days stop in Bali, and moved to Bangladesh after 12 years of living abroad…here I was, ever so excited to be able to blog about the off the beaten path travels here…
One year on, I am writing my first post :-/ I still wonder what was it exactly that made me stop – at first it felt too personal to write about things so close to home, I felt people would be judging me, not on the travels per se, but for sharing thoughts and philosophy of travelling with children and how we wanted to live in Bangladesh. Then of course Holey attack happened within a month and half since we arrived here…and that put an end to wanting to blog 🙁
Our worlds turned upside down, hearts broke, loved ones died, nothing felt good or real…life in Dhaka almost a year later, is still divided into before and after this tragic incident.
Adjusting to life in the urban jungle
We arrived 16th May 2016 and started the adjustment of living in this crazy urban jungle of Dhaka city. You look at the ugly background and wonder what is there possibly beautiful to see here? 12 months on, we have been to many places Bangladesh and there is still much more to see 🙂
To date, in the past 12 months, we have been to Sunderban (twice), Srimangal, Panchagarh (twice), Nilphamari, Cox’s Bazaar, Manpura (thrice), Rajbari, Sylhet, and Banderban. Plus river cruises and 3 day trips to Kaligonj, Tongi and Savar, just outside Dhaka. We also squeezed in India and Thailand in there but that’s for another post.
I have ambitious plans to write about why these places were special, how best to visit them, costs, information, etc but in all honesty, I don’t know how much time I will have to do it all. Plus there are now many ways to get to these places and variety of accommodations – super budget or complete luxury!
For now a visual teaser of what we have been upto this one year.
We took our first trip outside Dhaka to the Sunderbans 10 days after Holey attack happened. The natural beauty of the forest and serene environment did much to stop seeing only darkness and feeling only fear. We came back from this memorable trip, a little lighter and ready to feel face the world again. The trip was, similar to our previous trips to the largest mangrove forest in the world, engulfed in nature, enjoying the wildlife, empty beaches, and unique ecosystem. What’s different this time was how quickly you can get there thanks to new roads and improvement in transport. We left at 7 am and by 1 pm we were on the boat having our lunch, cruising towards the forest.
Within a month after Sundeban, we went to one of our other favourite places in Bangladesh – Srimangal – to the beautiful nature reserve Lawachara National Park, home to the endangered Hoolock gibbon and other wildlife. Lot of new information on visiting Srimongol since I last visited, there are now several places to stay at, scenic cycling routes and more activities to do.
I then went on my first work field trip to Panchagar and Nilphamari, north of the country, both new places to me. Don’t have many pictures as was work related, but still got to enjoy the serene and peaceful countryside.
We next went to Coxs Bazaar, longest unbroken stretch of beach in the world! We went super luxury here and stayed at the beautiful Mermaid Beach Resort. Wonderful place and well worth the money. Detailed post on this one to follow as have never travelled like this in Bangladesh before.
I mentioned about off the beaten track places in Bangladesh and Monpura is certainly one of them! Tiny river island located in the Southern most part of the country and one of the most affected by climate change. I had the privilege of working here with 100 adolescents, teaching them about climate change adaptation and advocacy. I experienced a whole new side to travelling in Bangladesh, definitely one place to go for adventure travel! No electricity at night, no hotels or any other amenities!
Ashique and children went to Rajbari, located in central Bangladesh, about 250 km outside of Dhaka. They have come here every trip to Bangladesh since they were babies and each time they have enjoyed the village life, milking cows, climbing trees, fishing and enjoying the warm hospitality of local people.
Sylhet – Another old favourite – Ashique and kids went up north to the tea gardens, enjoyed the seasonal date juice (khejurer rosh) being harvested and also went up to the Haor region. Another top one on the list for future travel – visit the Haor region, north eastern part of the country.
Panchagarh – We went to the northern most tip of Bangladesh, first and only trip that was just the four of us. Stayed at a beautiful organic/holistic centre kind of resort. Several winter walks amongst the tea gardens, kids crossed over to the Indian side, and we enjoyed feasting on vegetarian food at the only organic tea garden in the country.
Sunderban (again) This was a really magical trip we took in February, a mixed group of people – scientists, academics, travellers, local and international – everyone enjoyed and we saw plenty of wildlife, including a fishing cat, as well as several species of birds, monitor lizards, and plenty of dolphins.
River cruise outside Dhaka – We did this a few times since moving back. Get on the boat late afternoon, travel along the Shitalakha river. At different points jump in for a quick swim, we saw several dolphins, had dinner on the boat and back to Dhaka by nightfall. We do this with Guide Tours, but am sure possible to do with other companies too.
Banderban – Our most recent trip was to the Chittagong Hill Tracts, southeast of the country. Easy overnight AC Bus and you get to Banderban. Hiking, waterfalls and visiting some of the beautiful Buddhist temples were the highlights of the trip. We stayed at Hillside Resort Milonchori, another Guide Tour resort. We definitely need to come back here for some proper hiking in the forest.
Simple day trips such as the ones to Tongi (below), just outside Dhaka and now there are so many options of places to visit and stay overnight. Great for family day out and does wonders for the kids (and us). Even though it’s more comfortable to travel in Bangladesh in the winter, I have found summer to be more enjoyable. Colours are so vivid, fruits and vegetables everywhere, the storms are intense, everything is lush and clean.
LOT has happened in this one year, personal and professional growth, ups and downs, moments of – what are we doing here when we could still be by the beach in New Zealand – but I am happy to say, no regrets so far about making this move to Bangladesh 🙂
And I really hope this is the start to my blogging again. So far we have revisited some of our old favourites, enjoying it with children this time around. Some places were new, but there are many other places on my travel list in Bangladesh…and much to write about other countries we are planning on visiting in Asia the next few years…starting with Bhutan in September!
It was impossible to write details about any of these places mentioned in this post. Which ones would you like to know more about? Give me a shout out if there is anything in particular you want me to elaborate on.